Placenta Previa can be a diagnosis no woman can see coming. Least of all knowing if there is anything within her power to help the situation.
Doctors will continue to monitor patients with Placenta Previa closely, but often the condition resolves itself near the end of the Pregnancy. Although that’s a positive resolution, its the nerve racking weeks and months between where you are now and “the end of the Pregnancy” that you have to wait and worry. The possibility of bleeding or spotting can be distressing so what can Traditional Chinese Medicine offer women in this situation?
Placenta Previa is otherwise known as a low-lying placenta. Instead of the placenta being on the roof or wall of the uterus, it will be nearer the cervix or sometimes, covering the cervix altogether. This can present a problem with signs of bleeding during Pregnancy or even risk as the delivery date gets closer. The pathway to the cervix needs to be clear and unobstructed.
Debra Betts, a Midwife and Acupuncturist reports in her book, Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth;
“Although it has been estimated that as many as 30% of placentas on ultrasound are positioned low at 20 weeks gestation, less than 1% require further monitoring by 32 weeks, with only a small proportion of these requiring any medical intervention” (p.11).
A woman who has spotting or more substantial bleeding from weeks 16 onwards may be at risk of a diagnosis of Placenta Previa. Any signs of bleeding and you should be contacting your midwife or Obsterician for a full examination and formal diagnosis. Once they have checked you and monitored the baby and given you the ok, they may discuss options with you.
Wouldn’t it be good to try helping the body resolve this problem sooner, rather than later? TCM might be an option worth considering.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Options
Traditional Chinese Medicine interprets Placenta Previa as ‘Sinking Qi’ or a similar pattern to those with prolapse of the uterus, bowel or other organs and yes, there are treatment options available to try.
“Sinking Qi” refers to the depletion of the Spleen, in particular the Spleen Yang energy that has a lifting, warming and dynamic nature. [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]So pretty much if your Spleen is tired… if YOU are tired, run down, exhausted or depleted you could have Sinking Qi.[/pullquote]
The organ prolapse is the distinguishing symptom in this Sinking pattern, and therefore, a logical treatment applies – strengthening and ‘lifting’ the Spleen Qi.
The Spleen holds a role of importance in Eastern Medicine.
Digestion – It is central in the digestive process and the consequences of that; energy and blood production (nutrients being properly absorbed into the bloodstream).
Immunity – The lymphatic system gets a mention here as well as the Spleen pertains to the various types of body fluids and their distribution (lymphatic flow).
In Women’s Health it is of particular importance in the menstrual cycle because it relates to their blood reserves (including Iron, Ferritin, Platelets, clotting factors) and it is said to “govern the uterus”.
Taking it one step further to Fertility and Pregnancy, morning sickness is a very familiar symptom to women. The hormones cause this, but it presents as an assault on your digestive energy, where it practically travels North rather than South as it should!
A strong Spleen is crucial to a healthy Pregnancy – In Fertility & Pregnancy, you also need strong energy and blood to ovulate well, conceive easily and sustain a healthy pregnancy. A woman is growing a whole other organ – the Placenta – that must be in good condition, rich in blood supply and fully functioning, to sustain life. All of this requires the Spleen energy to be strong.
What to do about Sinking Qi?
One of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine’s strengths is building up energy levels, especially in conditions that are chronic or debilitating.
There are acupoints and herbs that have specific actions. Some strengthen energy when it is weak, some move energy when it is blocked. You can specifically move energy up, down or just round and round in the case of improving circulation. In the case of Sinking Qi, we use acupoints and Chinese Herbs that have a lifting or raising action.
Is Acupuncture or Chinese Herbs safe during Pregnancy?
The aim in Pregnancy for any TCM Practitioner, is to keep baby safe and exactly where it is. Often the Acupoints and Herbs that are used are GENTLE and aren’t too “pushy” in their action. In the case of Sinking Qi (the problem), lifting and raising the qi gently, becomes a logical solution.
Directing the energy downwards during Pregnancy is a BIG NO-NO. These are the Labour promoting acupoints and herbs and should always be avoided during Trimesters 1 & 2. You need to be seeing a Registered (AHPRA approved) or Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac) or Chinese Herbalist to ensure the practitioner knows what they’re doing and that you’re in safe hands.
Full disclosure should be made to your supervising Midwife or Obsterician. In the case of Chinese Herbal Medicine, other medications must be taken into account to prevent drug interactions. Please consult between your TCM Practitioner and OB.
For more information about Acupuncture during Pregnancy, you can email me with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org , I’d be happy to discuss your questions further with you.
And be sure to read further blogposts about Pregnancy here: